Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Better Part

Today, I want to extol the virtues of Mary and contrast her with her sister, Martha.  The Gospel tells us that Mary “sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.”  She was close to Him.  She trusted Him. She wasn’t afraid of Him, but sat at His feet listening to Him speak.  Mary was not a woman who wanted to be far away from Jesus or His teaching.  Rather she yearned for His doctrine.  She hung on every word and humbly opened herself up to receive that word.  St. Augustine says about Mary, “Now as was her humility in sitting at His feet, so much the more did she receive from him. For the waters pour down to the lowest part of the valley, but flow away from the rising of the hill.”  Mary recognized that Jesus had the words of eternal life, that Jesus had a wisdom which she needed, and opened herself up to received that wisdom.  Jesus gladly lavished it upon her.

Martha, on the other hand, was busy.  She was anxious.  She didn’t make the time for wisdom or for receiving the teaching of the Lord.  Jesus identifies the reason; she was anxious and worried about things that she didn’t need to worry about.  This invariably leads to sin.  Martha becomes prideful thinking that her sister is wronging her.  She becomes envious of her sister, declaring to Jesus Mary’s alleged faults and commanding Jesus to make her help.  When we let our anxiety about the world control us, we are brought down into sin.

So, are we more like Mary or Martha?  Do we take the time to read the Scriptures and study our Catholic faith in order to receive the wisdom of the Lord?  Or are we too busy?  Do we make time to pray every day so that we are close to Jesus?  Or are we too busy?  Are we resolute on coming to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation so that our hearts can be entirely filled with the Eucharistic presence of Jesus?  Or sometimes, are we just too busy and anxious about the world?  If we want to be like Mary, we need to make time for study, for prayer, and the sacraments.  These are the means by which we draw close to Jesus and listen to Him speak to us.

It’s easy to neglect our life of prayer and worship, but we need to stay focused on the better part Mary chose.  Jesus says “There is need of only one thing,” that is, to center one’s life on the words of Jesus.  We need to treasure our time with Jesus as the pearl of great price.  He needs to be the beginning and end of all that we do.  If we are faithful to this, no matter the trials and suffering it brings, then, one day Jesus well tell us that we have chosen the better part and that it will not be taken from us.  Our love for Jesus will console us for eternity.

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